Legal cannabis rejected by government
Monday 14 May 2012
City council members criticise the government, arguing that legalization is the only solution to the crime created by the booming and illicit trade of cannabis
State-run hash and marijuana dispensaries won't be popping up in Copenhagen any time soon after the Justice Ministry this weekend turned down Copenhagen City Council's request to experiment with legalizing cannabis in the city.
In a letter to the council, the justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), wrote that the government could not permit the experiment as they believed that legalizing hash and marijuana would likely increase both availability and use, which was unwise given the range of side effects that cannabis has been linked to.
"Because of this the government will not permit the experiment," Bødskov wrote.
The rejection was met with disappointment from members of the city council, including the deputy mayor for social affairs, Mikkel Warming (Enhedslisten), who argued that legalization was the only solution to the crime created as a result of the illicit drug trade.
"It's very disappointing," Warming told public broadcaster DR. "The prohibitive policies we have operated under in Denmark for so many years have not worked. You can still buy hash on street corners across the city which also means the hash is mixed up with other harder drugs. Criminals also pocket about two billion kroner a year from the trade."
Warming added that he would continue to work toward the legalization of hash and marijuana, pointing out that it took ten years to convince parliament of the need for an injection room for users of hard drugs.
City council member Lars Aslan Rasmussen (Socialdemokraterne) also criticised the government's decision, arguing that the criminalization of hash and marijuana was the root cause of the high level of gun crime in the city.
"[Legalisation] would limit the gang conflict and it would also give us access to the group of users who have been left to the criminal environment," Rasmussen told Ritzau. "We had hoped that they would take our proposal seriously, as we have the support of 80 percent of the city council. Copenhagen has a serious problem because the gang conflict is a result of the trade in marijuana. The gangs turn over more money than 7-Eleven."
Cannabis cultivation on the rise
The police estimate that the cultivation of cannabis is on the increase in Finland.
Cannabis plantations are found after tip-offs from the public. One was found in Masku and second in Pöytä.
"Public tip-offs are surprisingly accurate,” says Superintendent Bengt Lagerroos of the Southwest Finland Police Department. “The public know what cannabis crops, and especially the leaves, look like.”
Police scouts are sent out to hunt down cannabis. Over the week in 2013, they have destroyed four cannabis cultivations. The smallest of them was 2-3 meters long, the largest dozens of plants.
Police slash and burn
Police cut down the cannabis crops immediately and they are dried and incinerated.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg. I believe that there are many plantations,” says Lagerroos.
Cannabis growers are difficult to catch. The plantations are often at the edges of fields and ditches and anyone can plant them.
“Berry and mushroom pickers will soon be active in large numbers, and I believe that we will get a lot more tips,” notes Lagerroos.
Finland prohibits cannabis
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